Is it possible for a player who was named a first team All-Pro, a Pro-Bowler, and won a Super Bowl all in one season to have a breakout season the next? If so New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul may be that player. Some may say that JPP has already broken out, but when a player exudes as much untapped potential as he does, the potential to morph from “All-Pro Defensive End” to “Once-in-a-Generation Pass Rusher” still exists.
The freakishly athletic Pierre-Paul is entering just his third NFL season at 23 years of age, and he has already accomplished more than most NFL players do during lengthy careers, done things that Hall-of-Famers have not done. And he’s just getting started.
Jason Pierre-Paul is coming off a 2011 season where, at 22 years old, he had 86 tackles (65 solo), 16.5 sacks (4th in the NFL), 2 forced fumbles, 7 passes defended (3rd amongst defensive linemen) and a blocked field goal (as time expired, which would have tied a game against the hated Dallas Cowboys). He became the first player in NFL History to record a sack, a forced fumble and a blocked field goal in the same game. He did all of this despite only starting 12 games, and spending time rotating with fellow Pro-Bowl defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, who each battled injures throughout the year.
The scariest thing about Pierre-Paul is the fact that he is still barely scratching the surface of his potential and the sky is the limit for how good he can become. Keep in mind that he did not even start playing football until his junior year of high school, then look at the statistics that he put up as an “NFL Sophomore” again. He is still harnessing his athletic ability, still getting stronger, still learning how to play football.
New York Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty recently compared Jason Pierre-Paul to Hall-of-Fame defensive end Reggie White, known as the “Minister of Defense”, White was one of the most feared pass rushers in NFL history. It’s not hard to see why Canty made this comparison when you watch JPP on film. It’s the relentlessness. The way JPP not only pressures quarterbacks and stuffs running plays behind the line of scrimmage, but the way he chases down wide receivers and running backs 20 yards downfield. How many NFL defensive ends can do that? It’s a short list, and JPP is on the top of it.
The New York Giants have won two of the last five Super Bowls, because they have a quarterback who excels under pressure (Eli Manning), and a incredible defensive line that makes other quarterbacks panic in big moments. This is why, despite their regular season struggles, they are always a tough out when the playoffs start. The Giants are also an organization that prides themselves on their pass rushers, with names like Lawrence Taylor, Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck standing out historically. Jason Pierre-Paul looks to be the next legendary New York Giants pass rusher, and if he continues to improve at the same trajectory that his career path is currently on, the sky truly is the limit for this young defensive end.